Meet Egypt’s leading ladies at the National Geographic Museum
Those who sat on the throne of Egypt, one of the mightiest kingdoms of the ancient world, wielded a tremendous amount of power. At a time when women did not have as many rights as men, Egypt’s queens nevertheless shaped the course of history, with some even reigning independently. Queens of Egypt, an exhibit at the National Geographic Museum, explores these women.
Featuring more than 300 artifacts, the exhibit focuses on queens from a period of 1,500 years—from the beginning of Egypt’s New Kingdom with Queen Ahmose-Nefertari through the end of the Ptolemaic period with Cleopatra VII (c. 1539–30 B.C.E.). Statues, scarabs, papyri, perfume bottles, musical instruments, funerary stelae, and sarcophagi tell us about their lives. Visitors get to meet numerous Egyptian queens, including the female pharaoh Hatshepsut; Nefertiti, queen of the infamous pharaoh Akhenaten; and Nefertari, queen of Ramses II.
A highlight of the exhibit is a 3D visualization of Queen Nefertari’s large, ornate tomb in the Valley of the Queens. Visitors can virtually step inside the tomb and admire its elaborate paintings. Through computer simulations, they also have the opportunity to explore the harem, home of the queens, and the village of Deir el-Medina, home to the craftsmen who built tombs for Egypt’s kings and queens. Features like these provide a window into ancient Egyptians’ daily lives and beliefs about the afterlife.
Organized by Pointe-à-Callière, Montréal Archaeology and History Complex, and Museo Egizio, Turin, in partnership with the National Geographic Society, the exhibit is informative and engaging for people of all ages. Various activities make the exhibit especially child-friendly. When they arrive, visitors are offered a scavenger hunt questionnaire; to find the answers, they must carefully explore the exhibit and read the placards. Additionally, there are stations that allow visitors to smell common Egyptian perfume ingredients, play an ancient Egyptian game, and spell out their names in hieroglyphs. These interactive elements help all visitors engage with the materials on display.
Egyptologist Kara Cooney wrote When Women Ruled the World, a companion book for the exhibit that delves into the lives of six intriguing Egyptian queens: Merneith, Neferusobek, Hatshepsut, Nefertiti, Tawosret, and Cleopatra. For those unable to attend the exhibit in person or those who wish to study the subject in greater depth, this book is a good resource.
Through September 2, 2019
National Geographic Museum
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